If you could only use one trout fly, what would it be? You can have more than one fly, in case you wear one out or lose one but, only one size and one pattern.
Nymph, terrestrial, dry, wet, streamer, attractor, or… This choice will drive many fly guys crazy. Many of us carry enough flies to stock a small trout shop. Our choices vary in size, color, style, and … Picking just one fly is like getting married!
Let us look at the choices.
NYMPHS Trout spend 80 plus percent of their lives feeding on nymphs. Some nymphs like stones and mayflies are abundant some of the time. Other insects like caddis have longer seasons. Caddis are also found in almost all trout waters. Nymphing is often the hardest style of fishing to learn. Presentation is key and you are unable to see the fly. Strikes are often light and nearly invisible.
DRY FLIES Seeing the fly floating on the waters surface is exciting. A fisherman can see the strike and react. This is also an exciting way to fish. Trout spend less than 10% of their lives feeding on dry flies.
TERRESTRIALS Beetles, ants, and other bugs fall into the river. They are a big mouthful and excite fish to eat them. One grasshopper can fill the stomach of an average sized trout. It may take thousands of nymphs to do the same. Fishing topwater flies is again exciting but the season for these tasty meals is short.
STREAMERS Minnow imitations represent baitfish that are always available to bigger fish. In the Fall and late winter, trout want to eat big meals to survive the harsh conditions. In Spring, their body weight drops, and a big meal helps them grow. Fishing streamers in dead drift may imitate a crayfish or other big mouthful, like a sculpin or amphibian. Streamers catch fish year around. You can jig wooly buggers when ice fishing with great results.
WORMS San Juan Worms are the only fly for some anglers. What is simpler than a worm? For some fly guys, using a worm imitation is a sin even if it represents an aquatic worm that fish routinely eat. Other attractors and gimmick flies have their moments but usually are short seasoned choices.
For many fly fishermen, the DRY FLY is the Holy Choice. The purist simplicity of a rising fish is nature in perfection. Even though the opportunity to catch a trout on the surface is small, and HUGE trout seldom rise to dry flies, a Dry Fly is the BEST! If you picked a dry fly, at least pick one that is around for most of the year. That would be a Caddis. Match the size and color to the Caddis in your rivers.
STREAMERS can be stripped, nymphed, floated, skipped, and jigged. They catch fish year around. BIG FISH love streamers. Because they are more common to the trout’s food chain and can be fished year around in many different presentations, I would pick a streamer. If you dead drift a streamer, it looks like an easy mouthful. If the trout are feeding on minnows, the stripping action can be exciting. Dressing a streamer with a floatant will allow the streamer to match a hopper, stonefly, or a tasty treat. Jigging a streamer in deep water, or through the ice, always gets a trout’s attention. Fishing year around needs a fly that works year around. The Muddler Minnow is a good choice. It looks like many natural things. It could be a crayfish, hopper, dace minnow or just something tasty. A size 8 would cover most meal sizes.
One thing is for sure, my vest would be a lot lighter.
For more Montana Grant, find him streamer fishing at www.montanagrantfishing.com.